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A few minutes ago I got home from a visit to the vet. Syrus needed a wellness checkup after being adopted and the vet that my wife and I choose was booked solid until now. The checkup went well and Syrus is in good health. He weighed in at 37 pounds and is thought to be 8 months old. The vet says all of his adult teeth are in and there are no signs of tarter (which is why he is guessing 8 months).

That was the only good thing to come out of the visit. We got out of the car and made our way into the building. There was a man sitting just inside the front door with an older Black Lab. The dog was very docile and calmly sat next to his owner.

When Syrus saw this Lab he went ballistic. His body tensed up and he immediately began barking and howling. His tail started wagging violently and he did all that he could to pull me to the other dog. Not knowing what to do, I picked Syrus up and carried him across the waiting room to a seat furthest away from everyone else in the room.

I placed Syrus on the floor between my legs and tried to calm him down by petting him. This did not seem to help at all and Syrus continued to bark and growl. He was making a noise that sounded more like screaming, it was a high pitched bark and howling combination that just sounded bad.

The docile Black Lab was becoming visibly uncomfortable and I felt awful. I tried giving Syrus a food stuffed kong and petting him but he was not interested in anything but the other dog. After what felt like a half-hour (which was probably closer to 5 mins) he did nothing but bark, growl, and try to pull his way to the other dog.

When it was time for the Lab to see the vet, Syrus calmed down and seemed playful in trying to get the secretary's attention. Another dog came into the waiting room and Srus was back to barking and growling again. This dog was also older but appeared to be a boxer mix. He wasn't nearly as excited when this dog entered the room.

Getting Syrus to calm down with this dog in the room was a little easier as he was responding to my sit command and turning his head when I said his name. That dog went into the back to see the doctor and things got even worse when the next dog entered the waiting room.

A man came in with a very sweet looking Yellow Lab and Syrus went into a frenzy. This time teeth were shown and nothing I did could distract him from the other dog. The growling, barking, and howling reached its peak.

Trying to get Syrus' attention away from the dog, I placed my hand below his ear and gently tried to draw his head toward me to break his line of sight. When I did this Syrus snapped at me, I think. His mouth was wide open from barking and it quickly moved towards my hand. He could have bitten me with no problems, but he didn't.

In a last ditch effort to put an end to the ordeal, I picked Syrus up and walked into a corner with him in my arms. With his line of sight broken, he calmed down and everything was alright. A minute later we were called back to see the vet and I carried Syrus to keep him calm.

When we got back to see the vet Syrus was like a totally different dog. He seemed to love the vet and wanted to play. Doing the exam was a little difficult due to his playfulness, but it went very well.

I explained to him that all of the rukus in the waiting room was Syrus and asked him what he though the issue may be. I explained to him that Syrus was enrolled in a group obedience class and I was very concerned with a repeat performance when class starts in two weeks.

He went on to tell me that since Syrus is primarily Pitt Bull, he may be "hard wired" to be dog aggressive and there may not be a whole lot I can do about it. He says that Syrus is very friendly and a sweet dog, but a group setting with other dogs may be out of the question.

I emailed the class instructor just a few minutes ago telling them the same story and asking their opinion. At this point I'm completely lost on how to go about making the situation better. Walking Syrus has been difficult because he fixates on other dogs but he has never been this close to them.

When we visited the kennel, Syrus seemed fine with the other dogs. The coordinator told us that he was walked with other dogs and that everything was just fine in that regard. Is it possible for a dog to go from being fine with other dogs to acting like described above in less than three weeks?

What would you suggest I do from here?

Thanks for reading this very long thread. I'm sure I could have shortened it up but I wanted to get everything out incase something that I felt may be unimportant might have been the key to Syrus' behavior.
 

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Where did Syrus come from?...what is his back ground?..do you have a picture?


yes DA can pop up over time....some dogs are fine up to a certain age then start to show aggression little by little (or sometimes a lot by a lot)


DA is also not just found in Pit Bulls....there many other breeds that show DA.....as well as individual dogs of any breed

DA can be managed with a lot of work.......you pup may never "play well" with other dogs...but he can learn to ignore or tolerate being near other dogs over time with proper training :)....

My best suggestion would be to contact a behaviorist to have him evaluated asap :)
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Pugmom,
Syrus was found as a stray in Philadelphia. He was at the Phila SPCA for a while and then transferred to Second Time Around Rescue in Chester County. I got the impression he was scheduled to be put down in Phila. and they picked him up to give him another chance at adoption.

The coordinator told us that he was there for 5 weeks and a few couple visited him, but none adopted.


::EDIT::
I'm not sure if it makes any differences, but all other dogs were much bigger than him.



Here is a video of Syrus playing on his first day home


Photo:
 

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Syrus is a beautiful guy...he reminds me of another members pit on a pit bull forum I'm on...very similar coloring......to say he is a GSD mix is very misleading.....he is most likely a pit mix....but he is awesome!!!!

If he was found as a stray who knows what kind of socialization he had on the streets......but DA is common in pit bulls....my best advice is to find a trainer that specializes in bully breeds and start training training training.....DA dogs can still be wonderful family dogs:)......DA is not HA....most cases where some one is bitten by their DA dog is when they are holding back their dog and the dog redirects its frustration at not being able to reach the other dog.

Here are some great pit bull and bully links......you need to start (I'm sure you all ready have) doing tons of research on being a responsible bully owner :)

One of my good friends adopted a homeless 6mo old APBT ...he had been around other dogs before but started becoming DA....to the point where he could not even see another dog across the street with out going into a rage......but now after a lot of training and tons of love he is competing in obedience, has is CGC, and is starting to compete in weight pulling....he also lives with 4 other dogs !!!



http://www.badrap.org
http://www.pbrc.net
http://www.apbtconformation.com/temperament.htm
http://www.workingpitbull.com/aboutpits.htm
http://www.pitbullforum.com
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Pugmom,
Thanks for the links and kind words. Syrus is very playful and loving and the vet visit has been the only real issue we've had with him thus far.

I just received an email back from the training coordinator that we are supposed to see in a couple of weeks. From the previous emails I've sent them about his traits while walking, and this story, they feel that he may have become stressed at not being able to get to the other dogs and he may be wanting to play rather than being aggressive.

They recommend that we at least give the class a try. Worse case scenario being that he is unable to attend future classes, best case scenario we work through the issue and it becomes resolved.

I've already started gathering information on behaviorists in the area in the event that the class doesn't work out. I'll also be reading up on the links you have provided to help us along the way

Thanks again for the links and kind words.
 

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You look to be on top of everything.....I have a very good feeling that things will work out for the best :)

Pit bulls are as wonderful as their owners allow them to be.....they were called nanny dogs for a reason...


 

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I would also research "reactiveness" which is more a sign of an insecure dog rather than an aggresive dog - My Casper is very reactive but not agessive or mean at all - it sounds like your trainers may be leaning towards his being reactive as well
 

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Let me start off by saying I am in no way an expert and I have very little experiance with aggressive dogs!

Now that we cleared that up :) isn't the tail wagging a good sign? Don't dogs usually hold their tail very stiff when it is an aggresive gesture? Did you try to introduce him to any of the dogs? Just as KelliCZ said, I would look into reactiveness. Bella appears aggressive when another dog comes into the room that she doesn't know, barking, growling, ect. but once I introduce her she is great. She just gets over excited and doesn't know how to express it. She is really sweet and wouldn't hurt a flea, but you would never believe that if you seen how she reacts to strange dogs.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
Let me start off by saying I am in no way an expert and I have very little experiance with aggressive dogs!

Now that we cleared that up :) isn't the tail wagging a good sign? Don't dogs usually hold their tail very stiff when it is an aggresive gesture? Did you try to introduce him to any of the dogs? Just as KelliCZ said, I would look into reactiveness. Bella appears aggressive when another dog comes into the room that she doesn't know, barking, growling, ect. but once I introduce her she is great. She just gets over excited and doesn't know how to express it. She is really sweet and wouldn't hurt a flea, but you would never believe that if you seen how she reacts to strange dogs.

No, I didn't try to introduce the dogs. Syrus doesn't seem to have any "doggie manners" and would have tried jumping on them. I was afraid of the situation escalating if I tried introducing them.

The last dog to enter the waiting room was the closest one to him, which is when he was at his worse.
 

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I would be VERY hesitant to introduce this puppy to ANY strange dog on leash. Two dogs + two owners = 4 indicviduals who do not know each other. None of you may get along.

There is a member here who knows her Pits and Pit crosses... zimandtakandgrrandmimi... I would PM her and direct her to this thread for advice. She often has GREAT ideas and does a lot of work with Dog Aggressive dogs.
 

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I thought dominance was an erect and stiff tail??
Could be wrong though.
Not always. I've seen dogs that do wag their tail simply when they're getting worked up. Wagging tail does not always mean a dog is happy.
 

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Not always. I've seen dogs that do wag their tail simply when they're getting worked up. Wagging tail does not always mean a dog is happy.
Yeah i know... tail wag means alot of things depending on the banking of the tail.
Hmmm must have been just a thing i heard:p
 

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This sounds a lot like my dog when I got her at 5 months. She is reactive though, not dog aggressive. She gets along just fine with most dogs as long as she feels secure. I know what you mean by that noise; it is awful.

Teaching my dog to "watch me" and "sit" really worked wonders. I taught her the commands at home, then practiced them (using lots of high-value treats) while other dogs were in sight but were far enough away that she did not feel threatened. I progressively did this closer and closer to the other dogs, and now she can usually walk by another dog without incident. She has essentially learned that seeing another dog means that she should look at me for direction.

The trick here is that you never want to get close enough to the other dogs to provoke a reaction - if that happens, you have gotten too close! If you feel like you are in a situation were a reaction is likely, turn around and walk away until the dog is ready to be that close.
 

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He sounds more reactive than aggressive, but then again I wasn't there. It couldl very well be dog aggression. My friend's Pittie, Sasha, gets along fine with her "brother" and didn't mind Chloe and also plays offleash quite well with other dogs (and if she is kenneled she doesn't fence fight), but if she is being walked or in any place other than a home enviornment she looses it and will growl, scream, and lunge towards other dogs. Some basic training and a prong worked to get her attention refocused on whoever was handling her, but she wouldn't be a dog I would take to into petsmart on a regular basis.

Chloe gets along well with dogs when properly introduced, but meeting a dog on leash in a public place is out of the question. She goes balistic (or, she used to). Lunging, growling, barking, and being and idiot.

I've worked with her enough that now she doesn't care about other dogs in public (like, Petsmart or the vet's office) unless she is forced to meet them or they get withen touching distance.
 

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Discussion Starter #17
Tonight was my orientation night at the local Dog Training Club. There were far more people there than I would have expected and we were all broken up into groups of about 10 with different trainers.

After giving our trainer the paperwork proving that Syrus has had all of his shots, I mentioned to him that I spoke via email with another club officer and that we needed to address a potential aggressiveness toward other dogs.

At first he had a concerned look on his face then he glanced down at the paperwork. He said with an 8 month old puppy we should be able to work with any issue that pops up. He went on to say that had Syrus been 3 years old we may have had a bigger problem.

He said its possible that it could be aggressiveness (no way to know unless he was there to see it) but it sounded more like a reaction to the other animals based on my explanation. He said that under no circumstance will Syrus be put on a prong collar because he thinks it will only make the situation worse.

He openly told us that he has a pet peeve with excessive barking and asked that we work with Syrus to try and reduce it before class. his concern being that it would provoke a reaction from other dogs.

He showed the the group a couple of examples with his pair of Golden Retrievers and it was imply amazing how happy they were to obey his commands.

I still have mixed emotions about our first day of class (in regards to Syrus' reaction to so many other dogs) but at the same time I am excited to get started. Even if we only get Syrus' behavior around other dogs under control and have to attend another basic obedience class for him to "get it", I'll be happy.
 

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He said that under no circumstance will Syrus be put on a prong collar because he thinks it will only make the situation worse.
Completely agree with this. In fact, you might want to consider ditching the collar altogether. I started using an Easy Walk harness awhile ago and it has really helped with my girl's reactivity - not being grabbed around the neck every time she sees another dog on the street (understandably) makes her more relaxed!

I know it's frustrating right now, especially with the barking, but keep on top of it and I think you'll see a lot of improvement.
 

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When I got my dog at the shelter a few years ago she was kenneled with two other dogs and seemed completely fine with them. The shelter worker (who later ended up being my boyfriend..so I know he wasn't lying) even told me that she was good with other dogs.

After having her home for a few days I brought her over to my moms where there are two Labs residing. The second we walked in the door she went nuts and tried to attack both of them and has tried to do the same with every dog since.

Your dog is not being aggressive to be aggressive. He is guarding you.

In a situation where you can leave, simply take him and remove him from the situation. At the vet's office you would just take him outside until he calms down, then bring him back in. If he starts again repeat this process and keep repeatinguntil he can sit calmly.This technique has worked incredibly well with Brandy.

In a situation where you can't leave (such as another dog walking by or having to pass another dog somewhere) make him sit and block his view of the other dog. Calmy tell him "no" repeatedly whenever he growls. Keep him sitting until the other dog is gone.

The problem might never go away completely but these steps have definately seemed to help.
 
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